Starting school for any child is a big deal, it can be an exciting but very daunting time of their young lives. Whether your child has been in full time child care at nursery or simply enjoyed their free 15 hours a week at pre-school, starting school is a whole different ball game.
It’s up to you as the adult to ease their minds and put any worries to rest.
With this in mind we have come up with some simple tips that will help you and your child overcome the concerns about starting school.
Take your child on a shopping trip and let them help choose their school uniform. This will encourage their excitement. Make a day of it and go out for lunch too or get an ice-cream. It’s important they are positive about the whole experience, so encouraging your child to join in from the beginning, will help them to become excited.
Once you’ve got the uniform, let your child try it on. Let them practise putting the clothes on themselves. During school time your child will be expected to dress, and undress themselves, so it’s important that they know how to do so comfortably.
It’s a good idea to get clothes that are easy to put on and take off, fewer small buttons etc. this way your child is less likely to become frustrated with those types of situations at school.
You were once in the same position starting school for the first time. You may not remember much about it, but you have experienced many years in school, so talk to your child about it.
Always be positive about your experience, even if you remember something negative or you didn’t enjoy school very much. Don’t pass along that negativity to your child, it won’t help them in any way.
Talk to them about your favourite teacher, the games you used to play with your friends at break time, your favourite school dinner. There are so many things you can talk to them about that may help to ease their mind.
By now, most children would have had their taster day(s) at their new school. Taster sessions are usually offered by schools to new starters so that they can come in and meet their teacher, and new class friends.
It is a chance to get to know their environment before the first day of school. Even then, there is normally a settling in period where days are reduced to give the children a chance to adapt to their new routine.
Talk about their experiences and remind them that they had fun there. Talk to them about who they met and what toys they liked playing with. Keep reminding them of their teacher’s name and talk about the things they liked about their new teacher.
These are all things that will help your child with the transition.
Reading is such an important part of early years’ education and if there is one thing that you can do to help your child’s education, its reading to them. It is important to make reading fun and interesting but most of all it’s important to make time for it.
Borrow books about starting school and read those with your child, this will help them to understand the process and make it fun too.
Your child will begin to get reading homework to do at home with parents, and it’s important to make sure these tasks are completed together.
Children are expected to go to the toilet themselves in school and do not get assistance with it. Don’t make a big deal about the fact your child isn’t already doing this alone, but make a point of encouraging it at home while you still have time.
Use a sticker chart with reward stickers to help encourage the desire to succeed. Any reward system works well with young children so make it fun.
Don’t let them know they won’t get help at school, but encourage them to be independent so they won’t even worry about it by the time they get to school.
Teach them about the importance of washing hands after the toilet, maybe make up a fun song about washing hands to keep things fun.
Every child remembers spending hours of fun playing schools, assuming that role of teacher and having the ability to take charge of your group of friends.
Why not play schools with your child? Take turns to be the teacher. You can prepare them for the types of tasks they will be set such as, sitting on the mat for register, answering to their name on the register, hanging their coat and book bag up on their peg.
It’s helpful to practise these simple tasks that the teacher will ask of your child during the school day.
- Recognising Their Own Name
Your child won’t be expected to have exceptional writing abilities by the time they start school, however, it’s helpful that they can recognise their own name above the coat peg or in their school clothes.
If they don’t already, then there are a number of things you can do to help.
Practise writing their name, use alphabet cards to spell out their name, use fridge magnets to spell out their names. The more they see their name the more they will recognise it.
Being able to write their name is a benefit so if you want to practise writing that will give them a great start to school.
Talk to your child and their friends about school. Sometimes, if your child can see someone else being actively excited about it, this will encourage them to be the same.
Invite a friend over for a play date and spend some time chatting to them about their taster sessions, ask your child’s friend what they liked about their time at school.
They might find themselves talking away and helping each other through their worries.
- Labelling the School Uniform
With a class of 30 children all wearing the same or very similar clothes, you are going to find your child loses some items of clothing. Make sure you label everything they take to school, that way, it’s likely your child’s uniform will find its way home sooner or later.
It also helps if your child is able to recognise their own name so that they are able to read the labels and collect their own items of clothing. Sow your child where you have written their name so they know where to check.
You will find for their first few weeks your child will find their own routine, they will be both physical and mentally tired so you can expect them to be falling asleep earlier than usual.
Still, it’s important for the lead up to starting school you establish a routine that works for the whole family. This includes a set bed time, and wake up time. It’s no good allowing your child to stay up late and sleep in until the eleventh hour. Your morning and nights need structure.
Children need time in the morning to get dressed, get a wash and eat breakfast. They should not get out of bed and be marched straight out the door, this is not a good start to the day.
Every child will adapt to this new experience differently, what is important is that each child is allowed to do it at their own pace and enjoy their time at school.